Sergio Garcia out on the course at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City on Thursday. Photo: EPA/Christiaan Kotze

SUN CITY – Sergio Garcia “rolled the ball nicely” to storm to a blemish-free opening round of 64 and lead the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four strokes yesterday.

He birdied the first hole of the day in a sign of things to come, and then twice reeled off three birdies in a row - between nine and 11, and again from 15 to 17 - to finish four shots clear of Miko Korhonen, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Charl Schwartzel.

“I felt great,” said Garcia afterwards. “I rolled the ball nicely. I made some good putts here and there. One of those rounds where things kind of happened nicely to me. I think I played very smart. I probably wasn’t swinging unbelievably, but I kept it under control. I kept the ball in play all the time, which is difficult to do here.”

For Garcia, being able to read the swirling winds around a course situated in a bowl of mountains was key.

On a day where many of the big names found trouble at least once or twice during the round Garcia’s performance was all the more impressive.

Sergio Garcia assesses his lie on Day 1 at Sun City on Thursday. Photo: EPA/Christiaan Kotze
Sergio Garcia assesses his lie on Day 1 at Sun City on Thursday. Photo: EPA/Christiaan Kotze

Behind Garcia, Lorenza-Vera was bogey-free for his 68, while Korhonen and Schwartzel each dropped just once. A further stroke back on 69 was a group of six players, which included SA’s 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. He got off to a fast start and was four-under after seven, but a bogey at eight seemed to unsettle him and he made just one more birdie and another bogey on his way home.

Defending champion Branden Grace carded a 2-under 70 to find himself six off the pace.

Scores:

64 - Sergio Garcia
68 - Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Mikko Korhonen , Charl Schwartzel
69 - Ashun Wu , Benjamin Hebert , Andy Sullivan , Matt Wallace , Louis Oosthuizen , Jason Scrivener
70 - Ryan Fox, Branden Grace

Michael Green